In January 2013, Stephen King fans erupted in excitement over the release of King’s unexpected sequel to his 1977 classic novel, “The Shining.” This sequel was well-reviewed by critics and loved by avid King readers so it was only a matter of time before it would be adapted into a film much like its predecessor, “The Shining,” directed by Stanley Kubrick.
This evident adaptation was announced in June 2019 and was going to open in theaters this month. So, grab a fire axe and prepare to face the ultimate evils that await the viewers in Mike Flanagan’s film, “Doctor Sleep.”
This film was written and directed by Flanagan and stars Ewan McGregor as a 39-year-old Daniel Torrance trying to stop a group of supernatural vampires known as the True Knot, led by their queen, played by Rebecca Ferguson, as they try to capture a child who possesses psychic abilities. Danny’s fight against the True Knot leads him to address his PTSD of the events that took place at the Overlook Hotel all those years ago.
So far, “Doctor Sleep” has earned $14.1 million globally and is slated to make back its budget and surpass its predecessor which sits at $45.7 million. Though it has a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, this film is said to be one of the best Stephen King adaptations on the big screen.
To start with the pros of the movie, this film has a great story of a man trying to face a great evil with an internal look at how he must also struggle through addiction and overcome his fears of the ghosts he had faced in the past. This is an excellent example of how redemption/revival stories should be portrayed in cinema; establish a character and the problem he must face while, at the same time, have him or her face a past event or overcome some sort of turmoil that has left them broken. This type of story is rarely seen in today’s cinema but whenever it is seen, it blows audiences away. “Doctor Sleep” does just that.
Another great part of this film is the performances, most prominently in McGregor, Ferguson and Kyliegh Curran, as Abara, in her feature film debut. Each of the actors goes above and beyond with how they are present their lines while also adding subtext of their past events.
McGregor has been around the block of Hollywood with amazing performances, but the way he is able to portray this broken man coming back to the light and helping someone whom he has never met. Ferguson goes in the opposite direction with her performance of a power-hungry villain who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Also, something to note is that every scene with her and the True Knot will make any viewer squirm in their chair and strike the fear of the unknown that waits for them on their way home. Curran also did an amazing job in her performance of a child who is scared of her abilities but uses them for the good of those she cares about.
There was also a lot of great cinematography and music used in the film, all working together to establish scenes in a very beautiful way. This is all thanks to the partnership of Michael Fimognari, the cinematographer, and The Newton Brothers, (Andy Grush and Taylor Stewart), the composers. When there was a scene of the True Knot and their camp, the music established the dread that comes with it. When there was a scene of the Overlook or the land surrounding it, the score played in the familiar song, “Dies Irae,” heard in “The Shining.” The main point is that without the cinematography, the score cannot work and vice versa.
The only negative thing that can be said about the film is there were not enough scenes with the characters having more dialogue with each other. Danny and Abra had great amount of scenes together but there were not enough scenes with the two of them having individual scenes with Rose the Hat. If there were more scenes with them and their excellent acting, this film would be perfect.
Overall, this film is a great piece of cinema that introduces a new generation of moviegoers to the stories of Stephen King while also standing as it’s own independent film. It is also a great example of how an adaptation of a previous piece of work should be done. With a movie like this, the reader becomes the watcher and is presented with a new story altogether.